According to recent commentary, a regrettable reality is that currently available treatments for chronic noncancer pain are unable to alleviate pain or restore functioning in a majority of patients. Those observations, from a new series on pain appearing in The Lancet, highlight large gaps in the evidence base and call for more research to assess the effectiveness of combination therapies to relieve chronic pain, while ensuring that patients have realistic expectations about pain relief.
Dennis C. Turk and colleagues from the University of Washington, Seattle, observe that 20% of all persons worldwide have some degree of chronic pain, imposing a total economic burden of $210 billion in the United State alone each year [Turk et al. 2011]. They briefly review evidence for the effectiveness of the most commonly used modalities to treat chronic pain during the past decade, covering a broad spectrum: pharmacologic, surgical, interventional, physical rehabilitation, psychological, and CAM (complementary and alternative medicine).